STRAWBERY BANKE MUSEUM

STORIES FROM THE COLLECTIONS: On this page, Chief Curator Elizabeth Farish, highlights objects, photographs and documents to showcase the museum's collection of more than 33,000 items.  Click here to discover more Stories From The Collections.


St. John's Church
A watercolor depicting an 1874 Portsmouth skyline, likely by artist, Fidelia Bridges

From the Strawbery Banke Online Collections searchable database: 

This painting (2014.43), is attributed to watercolorist Fidelia Bridges (1834 – 1923), thought to have known Celia Thaxter and Annie Fields and occasional visitor to Portsmouth. Recognizable buildings include St. John’s Church and the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Gundalows and other masted ships are reflected in the calm water. Bridges is best known for her depictions of nature – wildflowers, birds, and landscapes. In 1874, she became the first woman to join what is now the American Watercolor Society. To read more, click here.


An Extrodinary Gift

In 1989, Strawbery Banke Museum received an extraordinary gift.  After years of working with the Wendell family, then- president, Jane Nylander facilitated the gift of more than 200 objects including Portsmouth furniture, decorative arts and household objects and personal items owned by members of the family.  Thirty years later, in 2019, Strawbery Banke received dozens more Wendell family objects. from Ron Bourgeault, antique master extraordinaire and current owner of the Wendell House. Click here learn about the Wendell Family collection featured in the special museum exhibit "World of Wendells."


The Liberty Pole
A symbol of citizen engagement in times of war and peace

The tall flag pole to the east of Puddle Dock and at the entrance to Prescott Park’s public gardens has stood as a local landmark for centuries.  

Portsmouth’s Liberty Pole, the oldest in America, was raised on January 9, 1766, by the Sons of Liberty to protest the Stamp Act.  The Liberty Pole has become a symbol of citizen engagement in times of war and peace, of local initiative and of the “grassroots” efforts for which Portsmouth is known. Click here to read more about the Liberty Pole and the hand-carved wooden eagle at the top. 


"Don't Give Up the Ship!"
A carved eagle, a copy after John Haley Bellamy's distinct style

Much like Captain John Paul Jones' immortal battle cry, “We have not yet begun to fight!,” the expression, “Don’t give up the ship!” is also associated with the early years of the United States. 

The carved eagle (1998.4) in the Strawbery Banke collection was created about 100 years after the War of 1812.  Once attributed to artist and Kittery Point, Maine native John Haley Bellamy (1836-1914), the carving is now believed to be a copy done after his distinct style. Bellamy’s talent was celebrated in his own lifetime and continues today. Click here to read more. 
 


Moving the Goodwin Mansion
How Strawbery Banke acquired the 1811 Governor Ichabod Goodwin Mansion

Although the vast majority of buildings at Strawbery Banke Museum sit on their original foundations, a few of them were moved to Puddle Dock to prevent their complete demolition.  Early on, the museum decided that the land north of Puddle Dock would remain intact to the John Hales map of 1813 and no buildings would be added (though that rule would later be broken.)  South of Puddle Dock, however, has seen the addition of four historic buildings, including the 1811 Governor Ichabod Goodwin Mansion.

Click here to read more. 


Art in the Goodwin Mansion

Every room in the Goodwin Mansion has at least one piece of artwork, some of which descended in the family.

Upstairs in the formal parlor chamber, Gov. Goodwin’s bedroom hangs a scene painted by Tomaso De Simone (1995.23).  The oil painting depicts a three-masted steamship at anchor in Naples Harbor flying the American flag.  The scene shows two mountains, one a smoking volcano and likely Mt. Vesuvius.  The pink sky indicates it is either sunrise or sunset.  De Simone, an Italian artist born in 1805, is known for harbor paintings. This painting was owned by the Goodwin’s and perhaps hung in this room before. Click here to read more.


Prom

High School proms have become a national rite of passage.  This year, most Juniors and Seniors will be holding virtual proms, prom in their living room or will perhaps miss out altogether. 

Prom, short for the promenade of young people in their best and self-expressive attire, is usually held in the month of May.  Starting in the late 1800s at New England universities, proms spread to high schools across the nation by the 1930s.  By the post-war 1950s, prom was the event of the year for many American teenagers. Click here to read more.